Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Shepastor: "The Domino Effect of Obedience..."

Paul’s Vision of the Man of Macedonia
Acts 16: 6-15, NIV
6 Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. 7 When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. 8 So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. 9 During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.

Lydia’s Conversion in Philippi
11 From Troas we put out to sea and sailed straight for Samothrace, and the next day we went on to Neapolis. 12 From there we traveled to Philippi, a Roman colony and the leading city of that district[a] of Macedonia. And we stayed there several days. 13 On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. 14 One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. 15 When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.

The word “obedience” can be an emotionally charged term. For some, it conjures up images of oppression and abuse. For some, it creates thoughts of antiquated theologies imposed upon women and children. But when viewed in the holistic context of listening to and following the instruction of a Holy God, embracing the true meaning of obedience can be freeing and life giving.

In our text for today, what I term the “dominion effect” of obedience is played out. The missionaries Paul, Silas and Timothy exhibit what can happen when, by faith they chose to obey God’s Holy Spirit.

Lessons From this passage, Paul’s Second Missionary Journey:

There are several things that we can draw from this passage of scripture regarding the dominion effect of obedience:

What you want to do may be a good thing, but it may not be the “God directed” thing.
Paul had planned to visit some congregations that had already been established to see how they were doing and to encourage them. However, the Lord had some new people He wanted them to reach. There was nothing inherently wrong with what Paul wanted to do. It just was not what the Lord had directed at that time.

Sometimes we have “good” things planned. The plans are not sinful, unethical, ungodly etc. However, it’s not “God’s plan” at the time. When we ignore the Spirit’s prodding to go in a different direction, not only do we miss out on what God has in store, we negatively impact the domino effect of God’s plans regarding others.

Obey the Holy Spirit when He speaks…
Because they listened and followed the leading of the Holy Spirit, an entire colony or region came to know the Lord. When the Lord speaks, His words and directives are not only for us, but ultimately for the many others He plans to reach and bless through us.

God can and will tell you where to go...
Although Paul desired to do a good thing and go to other regions, the “Holy Spirit” forbade or stopped him. The Lord spoke to him in a vision and told him to go over to Macedonia. The Lord can use supernatural means as well as human means to lead people to specific places. Be open to hearing God speak in a variety of ways…God’s Word, in dreams and visions, through other people, through situations and circumstances. When you spend time with God in prayer, in the study of God’s Word and among the people of God, your “hearing” and discernment will be sharpened. Your heart will hear God when God speaks through any means. Listen and obey.

God has specific people in specific areas that He has specifically appointed for you to reach…
Paul and the other missionaries did not know it, but the Lord had Lydia “prepped and ready” to receive their message. Lydia was a woman of means…a “seller of purple…” a very costly and precious linen at that time. God would use her, no doubt to help further the Gospel using her testimony, gifts and monetary resources. Lydia also had a heart for hospitality. She compelled the disciples to come into her home and lodge there while they did the work of the Lord in that region.

When we obey the voice of the Holy Spirit, He opens up means, ways, opportunities, resources and provisions that we would miss. Blessings are stationed along the path of obedience!

“The Lord” will “open their heart” to your message...
Sometimes we don’t want to listen and obey the Holy Spirit…going where He says go and carrying the message He says to carry because we are afraid of rejection. In this passage, we see that when we move forward as the Holy Spirit leads, there will be those whose hearts have been “opened by the Lord” to receive our message. Yes, some will have hard hearts. Paul, Barnabas, Silas and Jesus all experienced rejection. But our responsibility is to bring the message that God sends. Let the Lord take care of the rest. He has opened the hearts of others and the seed will flourish in that good soil

Worshiping God opens our hearts to his voice and His messages...
The scripture says that Lydia was a “worshiper of God.” (vs. 14) Worshipping God made her receptive to God’s promptings…God “opened her heart.” When we take time to worship God…adore Him for who He is, His beauty, sovereignty, power, greatness, “very Godness,” His mercy, grace, love, etc., our hearts are cultivated to please God, hear God, love God and serve God.

Open hearts share their excitement with others and they themselves want to hear more...
Lydia not only received the message, but shared the message wither her household and they were all baptized. She also saw the missionaries’ need and offered her resources to bless them as they continued to spread the word. Open hearts desire to serve.

Are you willing to abandon your “good plans” and obey the Holy Spirit’s voice? Has the Lord called you to help in some “Macedonia” and you are refusing? Does your worship lead to an open heart…a heart that desires to testify about God’s goodness and win lost souls to Christ? Does your worship lead you to a place of giving and service? When you see a need, are you open to use what you can to help? How excited are you about the Gospel?

We are dominos. When we listen and obey God’s Holy Spirit, our lives will ultimately win others to Christ and so on and so on and so on. May we resolve to obey the Lord in our daily living.

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Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris

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